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Gerald R. Thiessen
MS EGMT ’74, University of Missouri-Rolla
Colonel Thiessen if retired and spends his time tending flower gardens on his 160 acre property overlooking the Pomme de Terre River at Sunset, Missouri and playing bridge.
Colonel Thiessen’s academic background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He also studied at George Washington University in Washington, DC and Drury University in Springfield. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and has completed the Advances Operational Studies Fellowship, A War College program at the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Mr. Thiessen is a registered Professional Engineer Emeritus in the State of Virginia.
Colonel Thiessen completed a career of more than twenty-seven years in the US Army. His last assignment was as the Garrison Commander at Fort Leonard Wood where he was responsible for management of the installation. His military assignments also include two tours with the 3rd Engineer Battalion of the 24th Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia where he served as Commander, Executive Officer and Assistant Division Engineer. Colonel Thiessen was the Deputy District Commander of the S. Louis District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. He also served in staff assignments as Chief, Forces and Arms Control Division, Plans and Policy Directorate of the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany; Installation Engineer with the Defense Construction Supply Center, Columbus, Ohio; and the Plans and Programs Officer with the Military Assistance Advisory Group – in Tehran, Iran. He has served as an instructor at the US Army Engineer School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He served in numerous unit officer troop assignments in Vietnam, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Fort Meade, Maryland.
Among his military awards are the Bronze Star Medal, The Legion of Merit, The Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (six awards) and the Army Commendation Medal (two awards).
Upon retirement from the Army, he worked from 1997 through 2011 as Director of Engineering for a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Springfield, Missouri. He was responsible for process and project engineering for upkeep, expansion and conversion of five production units, a pilot plant and a small scale kilo laboratory unit. In addition, he supervised the maintenance of laboratories, administrative space, logistical facilities, utilities and grounds. During this time, he led the engineering team to conduct many product conversions of the process units. Many of these were highly expedited for commercial reasons and one very large change over to produce an antiviral was conducted successfully at maximum project acceleration to meet a declared national emergency to mitigate a perceived flu epidemic. Thankfully the epidemic never materialized, but the stockpiles of antiviral medication were delivered to government and commercial stores on time. During the entire term of employment, frequent FDA manufacturing facility inspections with not a single citation. Giver the stringent standards for this type of manufacturing facility this is a remarkable achievement.